Re: Fully winding down my involvement in GTK+

On 07/21/2012 07:44 AM, John Emmas wrote:
> Perhaps an answer would be to play down the mailing lists and IRC
> (for users) and encourage more use of the GTK+ forum.  The great
> advantages of forums are:-

My vote is e-mail or nntp instead of forums.

> 1) They keep a reasonably ordered record of discussions. 

Sure, but e-mail lists or nntp can do this as well, and are, in my
opinion, more easily searched by google, provided the list archive is
public, which almost all listservs can do.

> 2) Users only see the discussions they want to subscribe to. 

I'm not sure such fine-grained control is that useful to the community
that GTK devs might be wanting to reach.  Splitting the lists by purpose
(devel vs application development) seems good enough.

> 3) Users feel more connected to the product than they do with a mailing list. 

Only in your opinion.

> 4) Developers can dip into discussions as and when it's convenient for
> them. 

This is the beauty of using e-mailing lists or newsgroups and a real
e-mail client like Thunderbird or any traditional client.  Threaded
views allow this much more easily than forums.  No need to "bump" a
topic just to keep it in sight.  Web forums tend to lose participation
in topics quickly if other topics are also popular and bump them off.

> 5) Some users can be 'Power Users' who help the others (thereby
> reducing time pressures on the actual devs).

Sure, but on forums I do frequent, I just find the colored badges
annoying because they don't really relate to the person's knowledge
levels necessarily.  On the list we already can tell quickly (after a
week or two) who knows what they are talking about and who have good
answers to questions.  At least it is very apparent on other lists I'm on.

> Some of those things are theoretically possible with a mailing list -
> but forums definitely handle them better.  I'm sure there are lots of
> other things that would help too.  We just need to start thinking
> them up!

I can't think of anything a forum can do better than lists myself.  I
consider web-based forums to be the scourge of the internet.  What I
definitely do not need is another web forum to have to follow.  The fact
that RSS feed aggregators even exist would seem to me to be proof of the
inadequacies of web-based solutions.

E-mail lists or newsgroups work excellently well for the following reasons:

1. Everything is in one place as far as I'm concerned.  I simply fire up
Thunderbird and the mailing lists from the dozen or so lists I follow
are all there in their own neat little folders which I can open up and
browse very quickly without having to go to a url, possibly remember
usernames and passwords, etc.  Perhaps those that prefer forums need
simply to be introduced to IMAP folders and automatic mail filters which
are brain-dead simple to set up (Gmail can do them with just a single
click, "filter messages from this list").

2. E-mail clients are way faster than forums.  Except for the D language
forum, every forum I have ever used was frustratingly slow.

3. E-mail has a threaded structure that few forums have.  Forums tend to
be pretty much be linear, which only works well for a conversation
between two people.  In real life, conversation between many people
often involves branches or threads of discussion.  Indeed in thunderbird
I can watch parts of a thread work out, and ignore other parts.  For
example, on the python list, any branch of a thread that involves
certain people who are known trolls is almost certainly not worth even
going down.  However other branches of the same thread from other
respected people are going to be insightful and informative so I will
read those.  Almost all forums have no similar structure.  Even worse
most forum affectionados stare at me blankly when I talk about threaded
topics.  They don't even realize what they are.  I kind of blame google
for this and their "conversation" view of e-mail which fails horribly
for the kind of needs that have been mentioned by the parent and
grandparent posters.

4. More usernames and passwords required to participate, and often even
to search.  With e-mail, posting a message is normally just a matter of
sending from a registered e-mail address.  Spam can be a problem, sure.
 But forum spam gets bad too.

5. E-mail just works better on handheld devices.  I don't want to have
to mess with the mobile web browser for dozens of forums, or worse an
app for each forum that is really just a mobile browser.  Tapatalk makes
life a bit easier for mobile users, but still that's a proprietary solution.

6. I'd rather use my e-mail client's editor than some tiny html editor

I hate forums so much that I once wrote a python app that would scrape a
web forum and offer it as an nntp source.  Forums, since they lack the
true threaded structure I mentioned, don't map especially well to e-mail
or nntp unfortunately, so I abandoned the project.

Just my thoughts.

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